two weeks ago, my friend lindsey lee invited me to join her, her sister, leann, and her mom, robin, on their annual trip to the hillsville, virginia labor day flea market. if you have never visited this event, allow me to attempt to describe it to you. it's like a trip to the county fair combined with every yard sale you've ever visited, combined with a trip to your favorite antique mall, combined with a trip to the junk yard, combined with a trip to the campground, combined with a trip to the local family dollar. all stuck in the middle of the most podunk town in the the appalachian foothills. and then there are the guns. not only is this the most insanely large flea market i've ever seen (there was field after field of tents and booths) but it's also a gun show. that's right, folks. you can buy depression glass, period furniture, estate jewelry, every fried food in the book and semi-automatic weapons at this flea market. and not just semi-automatic weapons, but shot guns, pistols, ammo, and everything else that's gun related that i don't know the name of. i've never seen so many nra-loving republican southerners, mountain people and bargain shoppers in one place. there was literally something for everyone. i'm not entirely sure that combining guns with overly assertive deal-hungry people like lindsey, her mom, sister and i is a good idea, but who am i to say?
starting our loooooong day of shopping
so let's talk about hillsville with lindsey lee. three days in advance, i received an email from her outlining every detail of the day and the ways in which i could be best prepared. i was instructed to wear sunscreen, tennis shoes, a hat, sunglasses and i was told i was not allowed to bring a purse, as it was imperative that my hands be free. i was told to make a detailed list of the items for which i was looking so that i could best focus my energy, and that i needed to begin brainstorming the "card" i would play in order to receive the best price while haggling. lindsey's card was "it's for my new baby's room". leann's card was "it's for my first home with my new husband". i never really came up with a card, although "it's for my sanity because i have no job, no husband and no baby" might have evoked some sympathy? card or no card, we shopped and we shopped and we shopped. we shopped until every time lindsey stopped walking i searched for the nearest place to sit down and rest my tired feet (i wore chacos and definitely should have taken lindsey's advice on the tennis shoes. my feet were not. happy.) i left my house at 6:15am and returned home at 9:30pm. minus an hour for lunch and the time it took to drive there (about four hours total) in our giant four door chevy pick-up, we shopped the entire time. and i'd say we only saw about one third of all the booths that were there. this is no joke, people. bargain shopping at its most intense. i assumed that because lindsey was pregnant that i would certainly outlast her shopping stamina, but i was so wrong. lindsey, her mom and leann have more endurance than anyone i've ever met. not thunderstorms, not pregnancy, not intense heat and not one million rednecks talking about their guns stopped us, and it was a seriously great day.
approximately 1/16 of the flea market. seriously.
we started the morning with as many empty bags as we could carry, and we filled them all up. the empty pull-behind cart (named bertha and monogrammed because we're so classy) seemed rather cumbersome when we were starting out, so robin managed to attach it to her backpack. it was a storage device and a way to deter other shoppers who don't understand the meaning of personal space.
our first stop was this amazing linen booth that sold the most beautiful quilts, duvets, pillow shams, bed skirts, etc. and all at amazing prices. we all went a little crazy here. more on this later.
there were so many gorgeous shiny brite ornaments, and i wanted them all.
what's that you say? you want to buy an entire cemetery's worth of plastic flowers? well, you came to the right place. remember when i said there's something for everyone? i wasn't kidding.
i got really excited about these three tables full of jumbled jewelry and baubles. unfortunately, however, i couldn't find the match for the awesome vintage leopard print shoe clip that i found.
this booth was really cool and the people were really nice. except all of their cool vintage clothes still had the goodwill tags on them. it's hard to get excited about paying $22 for a vintage dress that i know cost $4.99. removing the tags may have been a wise marketing strategy. just saying.
a very nice gun-happy group was handing out these stickers. i figured with so many guns and sarah palin lovers floating around, it was safest to just appear to be one of them, so i wore it proudly all day. i have an opinion on almost everything, but i'm not sure i feel strongly one way or another regarding gun control. if i had a quarter for every old man that told me he liked my sticker, however, i could have bought a lot more stuff. liam ate this sticker (and by ate it, i mean chewed it up and ate it) when i got home. i guess we know how he feels.
this was my favorite booth - the "carry chic" tent - stocking all of your stylish gun concealment needs. that banner, in case you can't read it, says "defend yourself...in style." and just when i thought my pink pistol wasn't going to fit in my evening clutch.
at about 4:00, we were hit with a pretty decent thunderstorm. did i mention that lindsey also bought vintage boat oars for baby boy's nautical nursery? and that she carried them through the pouring rain? the "now all you need is a boat" jokes from passerby were a little out of control.
robin bought us some excellent ponchos at cvs so that we could continue shopping despite the storm. this is the first time i have ever worn a poncho and it was one part awesome and one part what i would imagine the wrestling team in college experienced when they were trying to drop a weight class in the gym.
aaaaaannnnd my very favorite photo of the day. these kind hillsville residents were willing to let you park in their yard for $5. they even made their own sign. we discussed what "come in own your own" meant until i realized it was redneck speak for "on your own". could anything epitomize this experience more adequately? i don't think so.
and i'm sure you're wondering about my great deals? prices at a lot of the booths were higher than than i was willing to pay. i'm a fan of yard sale pricing, not fancy antique pricing, but the flea market was large enough that there was something for everyone. i didn't get too much, just because my house is overflowing with good deals, but the things i did score were excellent. lindsey and her family, on the other hand, bought so many great things that we filled up the bed of our pick-up truck, as well as the cab. i can't wait to go back in the future when i have a job and a larger place to fill with unique vintage treasures. and tennis shoes.
milk glass pedestal bowls. most of the booths priced them around $20-25. these cost $2 and $3 and i looooove them.
vintage flower earrings, $1, and vintage flower bracelet (my favorite thing that i bought - so anthro and so much prettier in person), $2.
remember the linen booth i mentioned? i bought these excellent pillow shams (four total) for $1 each. i also bought my mom several other varieties, all $1 and all top brands. i plan to make them in to couch pillow shams instead of bed pillow shams, which should look great on my couch for fall.
and finally, while i didn't take a photo of it, i bought this full/queen nautica clearwater duvet, sold in stores for $160, for $4 at the linen booth. i don't have any need for a duvet, but i loved it so much and i'm pretty sure i'll never find another brand new duvet that i love so much for $4. i'll probably rotate it into my bedding for fall. isn't it gorgeous?
oh, and i almost forgot. the hot, fresh, made-from-scratch mennonite doughnut that was the size of my head. this was dinner on the ride home and i don't think i've ever enjoyed a doughnut quite as much as i did this one. it was a perfect end to an exhausting but excellent day of bargain hunting with friends.
robin, lindsey and leann, i know i fell asleep sitting straight up with my head tipped forward on the way home and in joe's words "looked seriously worn out" when we got home, but i had a great time - thank you so much for inviting me!
bedding image via the home decorating company